Cape Town Premier Alan Winde says the third wave of the coronavirus was associated with a 9% increased risk of death in COVID-19 cases, but the risk was 26% higher among unvaccinated: everyone should get vaccinated to protect themselves and save lives.
We have reviewed the impact of the third wave compared with previous waves, while also looking at the impact of the vaccine programme in saving lives. The findings clearly show the importance of getting vaccinated as soon as possible.
Our analysis shows us that the third wave was associated with a 9% increased risk of death in COVID-19 cases, but that the risk was 26% higher among those unvaccinated.
Over a 12-week period during the third wave, those aged 50 and older accounted for 30% of cases, 60% of hospital admissions and 83% of deaths. While being over 50 and having comorbidities has consistently remained the greatest risk factor for hospital admission and deaths in all waves, our analysis further shows a decrease in cases and admissions in the older age groups that were vaccinated.
This means the best defence for those 50 years and older, or with comorbidities, is to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible. Doing so will ensure that we reduce pressure on our healthcare platform in subsequent waves and prevent deaths.
COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths continue to decline. Letʼs continue to be vigilant as we approach summer. We are fast approaching the season where many of us will enjoy reconnecting with family and loved ones, while also taking a well- deserved break. As we approach this season, it is encouraging to see that COVID-19 cases, admissions and deaths continue to decline. Letʼs continue to be vigilant so that we can have a summer to look forward to.
Our healthcare platform shows us that across the province:
The proportion of positive COVID-19 tests has decreased to 4%, compared with 42% at its highest point on 26 July 2021.
We are currently seeing an average of 127 new diagnoses a day, compared with 3543 at its highest point on 17 August 2021.
We are currently seeing an average of 31 new admissions and six deaths each day, down from 362 new admissions and around 122 deaths at its highest point on 1 August and 30 July 2021 respectively.
To ensure that we have a safe and enjoyable break, we will need to play our part and continue practising lifesaving behaviours to prevent infection in the coming weeks and months.
Our planning for the third wave ensured that we had enough beds and oxygen capacity. In preparing for it, we revised our planning with clearly identified trigger points to ensure an agile response. This has ensured our healthcare platform can meet the demands placed on it throughout the wave, despite the pressure faced. Insofar as our acute service platform is concerned:
Currently, there are 1406 COVID-19 patients in our acute hospitals, including 684 in public hospitals and 722 in private hospitals. This excludes persons under investigation and cases in specialised hospital settings.
The Metro hospitals have an average bed occupancy rate of 91%; George drainage area hospitals at 72%; Paarl drainage area hospitals at 66% and Worcester drainage area hospitals at 67%. Critical care bed occupancy rate for designated COVID-19 beds for the province is at 33%.
COVID-19 and persons under investigation cases currently make up 5% of all available acute general hospital capacity in both Metro and Rural Regional Hospital drainage areas.
COVID-19 intermediate care: the Brackengate Hospital of Hope currently has 46 patients or a 13.69% bed occupancy rate, Sonstraal currently has two clients or a 10.29% bed occupancy rate; and Freesia and Ward 99 have no patients.
In line with decreased COVID-19 pressure on our healthcare platform, we have now decommissioned the Mitchells Plain Hospital of Hope and the Metro Mass Fatality Centre. Additional capacity remains available when required.
We are ensuring that we have sufficient staff capacity ahead of the fourth wave, in line with demand. The previous waves took a significant toll on our healthcare workers, who have worked long hours, been at higher risk of infections, and who have also lost loved ones, including family and colleagues, to the virus.
Ensuring their well-being and safety is critical in our response to the pandemic, which is why we have already begun our workforce planning ahead of the fourth wave. This includes:
Currently, there are 781 additional staff appointed for our COVID-19 response;
We have appointed 1459 healthcare workers and support staff, which includes 610 interns for the vaccination drive;
We have extended contracts until the end of December to ensure continued staff capacity for the health platform in anticipation of a fourth wave; and
A total of 785 applicants can still be appointed if needed.
We are further supporting our healthcare workers by ensuring that vaccination training continues. To date, we have 6348 registered vaccinators on health platforms; and 4245 trained vaccinators.
I want to sincerely thank the many healthcare workers who have seen us through the third and previous waves. You have consistently been a beacon of hope for all of us throughout the pandemic.
The Western Cape government plans to bring vaccines to communities through mobile and pop-up vaccine sites. We are increasingly using pop-ups and satellite vaccination sites to ensure no one is left behind in our vaccine programme. This will boost vaccine numbers by bringing vaccines closer to our communities.
To achieve this, we are focusing on areas with low vaccine uptake and are increasing outreach services. We will also continue to have fixed vaccination sites in areas with high foot traffic and that are strategically placed.
By 20 October 2021, the total number of individuals vaccinated with at least one dose was 2 243 239 or 45% of the total adult population. We have also fully vaccinated a total of 1 681 838 people or 34% of the total adult population.
In terms of the total adult population vaccinated to date:
Of those 60 and older, 61.40% have been fully vaccinated to date and 6.67% are partially vaccinated;
Of those between 50-59, 48.82% have been fully vaccinated to date and 8.74% are partially vaccinated;
Of those between 35 and 49, 35.99% have been fully vaccinated to date and 11.44% are partially vaccinated; and
Of those between 18 and 34, 17.47% have been fully vaccinated to date and 13.53% are partially vaccinated; and
If we look at these figures more closely focusing on the sub-district level, of those 18 years and older we have registered:
72.4% of the total adult population in the Western sub-district; 55.1% of the total adult population in the Overberg sub-district; 52% of the total adult population in the Southern sub-district; 50.3% of the total adult population in the Northern sub-district; 49.3% of the total adult population in the Eastern sub-district; 48.9% of the total adult population in the Cape Winelands sub-district; 48.3% of the total adult population in the Garden Route sub-district; 44.9% of the total adult population in the Klipfontein sub-district; 44.2% of the total adult population in the West Coast sub-district; 42.2% of the total adult population in the Tygerberg sub-district; 37.3% of the total adult population in the Central Karoo sub-district; 27.9% of the total adult population in the Khayelitsha sub-district; and 27.6% of the total adult population in the Mitchells Plain sub-district.
There is still a long way to go, and we are determined to do as much as we can to ensure no one who wants to get vaccinated is left behind.
Vaccines are our best defence against severe COVID-19 illness and will help us to save lives. I especially encourage those over 50 to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The process takes on average 30 minutes – including observation time. You can simply walk into any one of our vaccine sites where you will be assisted.
If you are unsure, or anxious, speak to a healthcare worker at your local clinic. We want to help you make an informed choice, by providing you with the facts that you want.
With December looming on the horizon, the next few weeks will be critical. If you get your first dose today, you will have full protection by the festive season, which is a time of joy, socialising and celebration in our province. I encourage you to help save our summer by getting vaccinated as soon as you can. Itʼs not too late to vaccinate.
Issued by Western Cape Office of the Premier